Nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, also called hypertension. High blood pressure is dangerous because it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, and death. It is often called the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms until it causes damage to the body.
Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing forward through the body and against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is measured by two numbers. The “top” number is the systolic blood pressure—the pressure while the heart is pumping blood out. The “bottom” number is the diastolic blood pressure—the pressure while the heart is filling up with blood, getting ready to pump again. Elevated systolic pressure alone, which is particularly common in older people, is just as dangerous as elevations of both systolic and diastolic pressure.
Much of the time the cause of a person’s high blood pressure is unknown. Once it develops, high blood pressure usually lasts the rest of the person’s life, but it is treatable. Many people with high blood pressure will need more than one medication to reach their goal blood pressure. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you should be on medication and, if so, which drug(s) may be best for you.
Controlling your blood pressure is a lifelong task. Blood pressure is only one of a number of factors that increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. High cholesterol and diabetes are other risk factors. Lifestyle changes—such as weight loss, a healthy diet, and physical activity—can affect all three risk factors, but many people will also need medications.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects you are having from your medications. Some side effects may go away over time; others may be avoided by adjusting the dosage or switching to a different medication.
To learn more about this subject, visit our online health encyclopedia.
As we recognize the role that pharmacy plays in the healthcare profession, we would like to urge you, the consumer, to take this time to update your medicine cabinet. Be sure to check the expiration dates on all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dispose of and replace any that are out of date. Never use a medication that has changed color, consistency, or odor, regardless of the expiration date.
Also, make sure that your medications are properly stored. In rare cases, medicine that is out of date or improperly stored can actually become toxic. The best place to store medications is in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Bathrooms are not a good place to keep medications, as they are too damp and humid which can break down, degrade, and decrease the potency of medicines. If you store your medications in the kitchen, make sure not to store them near the stove, sink, or any appliance that gives off heat. ALWAYS store all drugs, including vitamins, out of the reach of children.
Remember that medications should always be kept in their original container so that you can easily see the expiration date and information about dosages and warnings on the bottle or package. Combining medications in one container is never a good idea. It is equally important to talk to a doctor or pharmacist about any possible drug interactions between two or more medicines that might be taken at the same time.
Make updating your medicine cabinet a part of your seasonal ritual. As always, if you have any questions about your medications or the proper way to store them, contact your pharmacist.
Effective July 1, 2008: In order to have your prescriptions filled for a 90-day supply, the original prescription must be written or phoned in for 90 days. We can no longer pull from refills in order to process your prescriptions for 90 days. Due to the number of customers we serve every day, we can not be responsible for contacting your physician to have your prescriptions changed to 90 days. If you wish to take advantage of the 90-day prescription plan, please contact your physician and ask to have your medications written or called in for 90 days.
The new St. Vincent’s Health System copays are:
Non-preferred Brand $100
To find out if your prescription is preferred or non-preferred click here, then type in the name of your medication.